Jered Harrison Cartoon
Jered Harrison Cartoon
Jered Harrison Cartoon

The violent events of Oct. 22, 2014 should be a catalyst to always remember those who sacrifice for us daily.

We cannot allow those appalling and cowardly acts to shake us. If we take anything away from the emotional turmoil of that day, it should be a deep appreciation for the selflessness and heroism of our military. These brave men and women took up the call of duty for their country, and sadly for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and their loved ones, their sacrifice had deadly consequences.

The irony of shooting down an unarmed guard on the steps of our national monument dedicated to honour our war dead, and Canadians now serving to protect our democratic freedoms, is evident and undeniable. The symbolism is rife with maliciousness and contempt.

It was a blow to the traditions, beliefs and ideals we hold dear by a twisted mind perverted by fundamentalist indoctrination and deep-rooted resentment toward our country. By strengthening our appreciation toward our military service members as a result of this violence, it would be a fitting counter-blow to the terrorists who hate what our military represents.

Our men and women in uniform serve our country and its citizens with a deep, profound loyalty. “In the Canadian Armed Forces you swear to serve your country and that includes every citizen,” said Master Corporal Kinga Golebiowski, section commander at Governor General’s Foot Guards, Primary Reserve Unit within 33 Brigade and 4 Canadian Division. “The risk has a certain weight, but situation-dependent, it gets over shadowed by your task/mission.”

This mentality is what enabled the RCMP, Ottawa Police Service, House of Commons Security Services and Senate security officers to stop the suspect inside the halls of our Parliament before he could harm any more innocent lives. The suspect could have potentially caused a great deal of tragedy inside the walls of our capital building were it not for the brave actions of the responding officers, emergency services personnel and Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers, who is credited with shooting the suspect dead.

In the wake of these attacks, our pride and gratitude to our uniformed men and women has been deservedly strong, and the outpouring of support to the families of the lost soldiers has been overwhelming. A massive vigil at the National War Memorial went on for days after the attack and professional sports teams across the country had moments of silence and special ceremonies to honour the fallen and those affected by these tragedies.

“The moment I found out about the death of Nathan while serving our country, I was absolutely saddened, but also incredibly proud to say that I am Canadian, “ said Laura Braid, an Algonquin graduate of the advertising program whose brother joined the military earlier this year. “That man stood strong to protect what we all believe in, right until his last moments. My brother is currently serving in the RCAF, and as a sister of a military serviceman, I am empathetic and can only imagine what Nathan’s family must be experiencing in this time of mourning. However, I pay tribute and says thanks to Nathan, and all of the men and women in arms, who make sisters like me, the most grateful every day.”

These men and women took an oath to protect us and we should honour them with due recognition. Take some time to volunteer with Veterans Affairs Canada and attend some of the many veterans’ events in your city. Donate to the foundations and trust funds set up in memory of Cpl. Cirillo and WO Vincent. Read up on Canada’s illustrious military history in order to fully understand and appreciate Canada’s role in past and present conflicts. Or simply say thanks to a military service member and let them know you appreciate their service and sacrifice.

This Remembrance Day, lest we forget those who died serving our country and its citizens whether at home or abroad, past and present. Lest we forget Cpl. Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Lest we forget the day chaos took our capital and we did not let it break us, but met it with strength, pride and unity.